Pete’s Peek | The Conformist – Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1930s political thriller still dazzles and disturbs

Based on Alberto Moravia’s 1951 novel, Il Conformista, Bernardo Bertolucci’s stunning recreation of the 1930s is a period piece that looks as good today as 40 years ago.

Haunted and uptight Marcello Clerici (Jean Louis Trintignant) pursues his quest for a normal life by marrying a wealthy woman (Stefania Sandrelli) and committing himself to fascism by accepting an assignment from Benito Mussolini‘s secret police to assassinate his former philosophy professor, living in exile in Paris. But when he falls in love with the professor’s wife Anna (Dominique Sanda) – who cottons onto his deadly plan – Marcello soon finds himself trapped in a dilemma of his own making.

A guilty past and a conflicted present are masterfully intercut in the transition from a warm Rome to a wintry Paris, with an unparalleled blend of rich imagery (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage’s Vittorio Storaro at his finest), sublime camera movement and psychological complexity. Conceived by the director at the top of his game, The Conformist was a big winner at the Berlin Film Festival, and remains influential to other filmmakers for its ornate design and sensual cinematography.

The Arrow Academy Dual Format release includes High Definition Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the film, with the HD restoration supervised by Vittorio Storaro; audio commentary; Bernardo Bertolucci: Reflections on Cinema